Alleged child sex abuse victim speaks out at Vatican conference
Marie Collins, a victim of church abuse, in Rome on Monday.
February 7th, 2012
04:20 PM ET

Alleged child sex abuse victim speaks out at Vatican conference

By the CNN Wire Staff

An Irish woman who detailed her own harrowing experience of child sexual abuse at the hands of a priest spoke out during a Vatican symposium on Tuesday, telling church officials that an apology was not enough.

"Those fingers that would abuse my body the night before were the next morning holding and offering me the sacred host," Marie Collins told an audience at Gregorian University in Rome. "The hands that held the camera to photograph my exposed body, in the light of day were holding a prayer book when he came to hear my confession."

Collins said "there must be acknowledgment and accountability for the harm and destruction that has been done to the life of victims," calling for a strengthening of church policies to avoid what she called the "deliberate cover up and mishandling of cases."

This week's conference is meant to address ways clergy can better protect children from sexual predators.

On Monday, a top Roman Catholic official opened the conference by defending Pope Benedict XVI, arguing that he deserved thanks for his efforts.

Cardinal William Levada said Benedict, before becoming pope, enacted many of the reforms that followed the eruption of the church's sex-abuse scandal a decade ago.

"But the pope has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world, when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the church and outside it," Levada said in his opening address to the conference.

Levada leads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office charged with enforcing church law.

A wide-ranging child sex scandal, where priests have been accused of molesting young parishioners in the United States and in Europe, has since led to criminal charges in cases still pending before the courts.

Levada said more than 4,000 cases of sexual abuse had been reported to his office in the past decade, revealing the need for "a truly multifaceted response."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Sex abuse

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Esperanza Fe

    So so sad.... I have been waiting for such a long time for the Vatican to conduct an investigation on my case... As a matter of fact I have send several letters to Cardinal Levada though the Apostolic Nuncio and I have sound evidence that I was abused by a priest... but I guess people in the US and Europe have done a better job at fighting for there rights! Some day God will help me to heal my heart and find justice! People of the world, please pray for me...

    February 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • momoya

      Write more letters and send copies to organizations that are helping victims of catholic abuse. Demand justice. Let go of bitterness, but continue to seek healing. Don't let the abusers get away with it.

      February 12, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • chief

      go to the authorities, also there are 2 or 3 different groups online that will help you in your behalf.... your a fool to go to the people that are protecting the person that commited the crime

      February 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  2. r


    February 9, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  3. sonotso

    Spiritual warfare is being waged and Newtamus Prime and the Republicons are fighting the good fight.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  4. sonotso

    chances are that all the attendees were in one camp or the other.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  5. *frank*

    "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" = The Inquisition...........

    February 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  6. Alfred E Neuman

    So that is were William Demuth went.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  7. RightTurnClyde

    Life is abusive (you know?) ... NCO's are abusive, bosses are demanding if not actually abusive. Dee-vorce .. now that's a buzz saw and a half. Universities will not give you a break on your kid's tuition - especially if you are not a minority of some kind. The IRS has been abusive. Getting your car fixed at the dealer is down right frightening. (The dentist - oh Lordy - needles and drills). My Ex and her lawyer (out for blood .. got it too)(judge .. he IS synonymous with abusive). Life can be a hard journey. But.. it is worth it - every minute of it. Set down with a nice Martin guitar and a shot of Wild Turkey and it all mellows.

    February 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • RightTurn Clyde

      Hey there you people who were molested as children! Just have some whiskey and play your guitar. It's just life. Don't be angry about it.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Prayer didn't help the Portland Trailblazers when they won the first two games of the 2000 Western Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in LA. In game three with a chance to go up 3-0, Kobe Bryant blocked a Arvydas Sabonis shot that would've tied the game, and the Lakers won the game by two.

      The series came down to seven games. In game seven, the Trailblazers had a 15 point lead, but the Lakers came back and pulled ahead in the closing minutes. Go Lakers!

      February 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • pervert alert

      portland didn't pray this moron has admitted that it has no concept of prayer

      February 8, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demon speaks through a dead rotten soul sports mean nothing

      February 8, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Nope

      `~~~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~~"~~~

      February 8, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Sports Fan

      Well I don't know if ALL the players and fans prayed, but I am reminded of another time when prayer didn't help.

      In the second quarter of Super Bowl III, Morrall threw an interception to the New York Jets that gave them momentum that they never gave up. On that play, Baltimore Colts wide receiver Jimmy Morton was wide open down field for the touchdown, but Morrall didn't see him. On a positive note though, that Jets victory "guarenteed by underdog Joe Nameth" launche professional football into the popular sport it is now!

      February 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  9. Reality

    This conference is money wasted as the "vomit-inducing" ped-ophilia and coverup will simply hasten the decline of all religions as they finally go extinct from their own absurdity.. It is time to replace all religions with a few rules like "Do No Harm" and convert all houses of "worthless worship" to recreation facilities and parks.

    February 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Reality

      I love huge, fat d-i-c-k-s in my a-s-s

      February 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • No please ...

      use the "report abuse" folks

      February 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Guest

      If you enjoy that activity, I guess that would explain your animosity towards the church.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Reality

      o The comments from the last Reality are not from the original Reality. Unfortunately, the blog moderators still have not figured out how to restrict commentators' names to one no matter what the email/IP address is. This is strange because such restrictions are in place on most blogs.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • ......

      hit report abuse on all reality vomit inducing posts

      February 8, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  10. GodIsTheWay

    That does sound like it's a "memorized script" to me.... just doesn't seem right.

    February 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • momoya

      It probably is. She probably has 100 versions that she's memorized over the years while she has tried to live a normal life with such memories plaguing her every moment. Of course it's not just rolling off her tongue; she's lived with it every day.

      February 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      @momoya: I was a molested child. Not at church, but by an older "friend." I was 7 at the time. These days, I can talk about it without anger or malice, and without sounding like it's a script.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • momoya

      You have no idea how you would sound. Maybe you'd sound exactly like a script; you're not in a position to say that it wouldn't. I've know plenty of people who thought they sounded free and calm when speaking in public on a sensitive issue, but they actually sounded stilted and petrified.

      What, exactly, is your point, anyway... that when things sound scripted TO YOU, YOU doubt the content?

      February 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      @momoya: I have no idea how I would sound? I've talked about it recently. I told my mother about it just last year. I told my wife first, 2 years ago. I even told my sister. My wife also recorded it in case I wanted to go to the police, but it's been 27 years, there's no real point to that. So I know exactly how I sound, and I sound like it's something I'm not comfortable with (which nobody could be) but that I can talk about, since it was so long ago.

      My point is exactly that there are many people in the world who do the Devil's work and wish to destroy Christianity. Bearing false witness against a Church of Christ, especially in a society that almost requires you to hate religion and live life in a sinful fashion, wouldn't be too difficult for most.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • momoya

      So because YOU find her statement to be practiced YOU consider her a liar?!?! Holy crap that's twisted!!

      You have no idea who she has or has not talked to, or her mental state, or her method of dealing with her dilemma. That you would rather rush to judgment on something so flimsy as "memorized script" shows your lack of empathy. If she's "bearing false witness against christ" then that is her business and she has to deal with the consequences. It's disgusting that you would jump to your own conclusion just because you don't want your sky daddy's molester's club busted up before you get in all your giggles, too. Your bias looks pretty darn revolting from where I sit.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      @momoya: you're jumping to conclusions. I'm not even Catholic. I'm Antiochian Orthodox. I'm not saying she's lying, although women tend to. What I'm saying, is perhaps she should undergo a polygraph or two over the next few months to make sure she IS telling the truth. Again, there are many out there that wish to destroy those who attempt to do God's work, and while the Roman church has many, many flaws, it also does many, many good things.

      February 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      God is the way..why not put the pope on a polygraph and see if his stories of innocence stand scrutiny.?

      February 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • momoya


      I think you made yourself clear when you said: "I'm not saying she's lying, although women tend to."
      Your an arrogant misogynist; enough said.

      February 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      @evolved: I'd be happy to. I'm really interested in truth coming out.

      @momoya: have you ever known a woman who didn't lie about something?

      February 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • *facepalm*


      Have you ever known a person who didn't lie about something? @momoya is right, you're obviously a misogynist. Bitter much?

      February 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • chief

      re godistheway ..... your a fraud, we all see through your bs ... another catholic that tries to redirect the topic off the fact that the church has had ped priests, known about, and done nothing about it, and lied about it.....

      February 8, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • YeahRight

      "@momoya: have you ever known a woman who didn't lie about something?"

      Have you ever known a man who didn't lie about something?

      February 8, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • tallulah13


      You are a hypocrite. Are the baseless accusations you're throwing out there, about women and about this woman in particular, really any different from lies?

      February 8, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • GodIsTheWay

      Every single post attacking me seems to be highly defensive in nature... instead of answering the question it's attack attack attack... just like women.. hmm...

      February 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • chief

      re moronistheway ... i will answer your question.... no it does not sound like a memorized script.... however the senseless apologetics your give do seem scripted right out of the catholic apologetics manual.....

      February 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  11. RightTurnClyde

    I do not believe all of the people alleging to be victims. I think they just want the publicity and maybe some windfall money (a million or so) Oh yes there were some legitimate victims but now itis just a fad to get on the band wagon .. but the parade is over (actually)

    February 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      WWJD? I'm guessing not blame the victim.


      February 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • J.W

      I believe if the church believes that the victim is lying they should stand firm and not give them what they want, But the church should admit when it did make a mistake. The problem is the church has been so dishonest up until now that nobody trusts it anymore.

      February 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      RTC...how come you cant believe that, yet you believe in a ghost that runs your life? are you looking for evidence????

      February 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • KeninTexas

      Are you aware of the November 2010 declaration to the Los Angeles County Superior Court former LA Deputy District Attorney Donald H. Steier which included the alarming statement that as many as ONE HALF of abuse accusations against Catholic clergy may be "entirely false" or "greatly exaggerated"? This is the result of an investigation by a retired FBI agent looking into abuse cases.

      February 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Although I am no longer a Catholic, I went to Catholic schools and Catholic higher ed and I knew a lot of priests and nuns. Other than getting my back end tanned I was not abused. I deserved the tannings .. I was not a good child and was not a particularly good adult. All the more reason why I need to be Christian. "Good" does not run in my blood the way it does for others. I can get into trouble just sitting on a bench. As I get older I am even more cantankerous, however, I do not chew or drink and avoid cussing (except when I am mad). I listen to Dr. McGee frequently and plan an occasional hymn on a guitar.

      February 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      So, Ken, one person said that some people might be exaggerating. Thanks for that insightful nugget.

      Yet another pathetic attempt to distract from the real issue – a global, decades long complicit relationship with pedophiles that the world's largest organized religious body has had. The lengths that people will go to in order to deflect blame are nothing short of staggering.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • chief

      re morinintexas...... i love the bs stats... how about the vatican saying there have been over 4000 complaints registered in the last decade???? and BTW, these are so called men of God.... not people on the street

      February 8, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • HotAirAce

      KenInTexas neglected to mention that the former DA is a defense lawyer for many of the accused priests. He is not without prejudice. Also, his statement seems to be a collection of opinions, not a definitive list of accusations that we're proven false.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:34 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.